ISSN: 20010818
First published in 2012
3 issues per volume
Volume 7 Issue 3
Cover Date: October 2018
‘Professionally we’re definitely in this together’
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Authors:  Julian Petley 
DOI: 10.1386/ajms.7.3.481_1

John Whittingdale,Leveson Inquiry,Crime and Courts Act 2013,Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee,Hacked Off,openDemocracy,Byline,IMPRESS

In early April 2016, the websites Byline and openDemocracy published a number of articles alleging that the Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, had been involved in a liaison with a prostitute. Remarkably, given most British national newspapers’ obsession with sex scandals, the national press not only refused to pick up the story but also attacked Byline and openDemocracy for running it, arguing that it was not in the public interest. Byline and openDemocracy responded that the nationals had refused to run the story because they did not want to harm Whittingdale, who was known not to be in favour of putting the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry into practice. The nationals hit back by accusing Byline and openDemocracy, which supported Leveson, of trying to undermine Whittingdale and so improve the chances of the Leveson recommendations being adopted. But in the course of this extremely bitter battle between different sections of the news media, it soon became apparent that the nationals had in fact been sitting on not only the prostitute story but a number of other scandals as well concerning Whittingdale. This article will utilize the Whittingdale controversy to argue that most of the British national press puts serving its own interests far above serving the public interest, that it will use every means at its disposal to thwart the creation of the kind of system of press self-regulation proposed by the Leveson Inquiry and that it is far too deeply enmeshed in the political system, and in particular, with Conservative interests, to be considered as a Fourth Estate of the realm.
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